Explore Charlotte

Charlotte for Escapists

Off the beaten path shopping, restaurants and things to do

Looking to beat the crowds but still have an adventure in Charlotte isn't hard to do if you know where to look.

An artist working on a painting at the McColl Center for Visual Arts
An artist at the McColl Center for Visual Arts (©Knight Foundation/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Things to Do in Charlotte

McColl Center for Visual Arts: This creative space is housed in an old church with soaring ceilings and delightfully quirky exhibit space. Meet artists-in-residence, attend lectures and browse exhibits. 

The Punch Room: This 15th-floor speakeasy is the Ritz’s love letter to America’s prohibition era. This casual setting makes room for boozy punches, seasonal cocktails and international small plates. 

"Metalmorphosis": This mirrored sculpture is the work of Czech sculptor David Černý. The head’s layers rotate 360 degrees and will periodically align to show the head, complete with water spewing from its mouth. There are several other curious sculptures in the area. 

Museum of the Alphabets: A curious local missionary founded this institution of linguistics and language preservation in Waxhaw, North Carolina. See replicas of the Rosetta stone and ogle over languages from Greek to Klingon.

Fern restaurant in Charlotte
Fern restaurant (©Lunahzon Photography)

Restaurants in Charlotte

Earl’s Grocery: Named after the owners’ father, this café-bodega stocks artisanal food items and offers selections of coffee, tea and quick meals. Stop in for soda pop from the Midwest, designer hot sauce and other culinary curiosities. 

Fern: Vegan and vegetarian dishes dot the menu at this Plaza Midwood restaurant filled with color and live plants. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner every day—except Monday—for dishes heavy with Mediterranean, Indian and Southwest flavors. 

Copper: This Dilworth bungalow restaurant packs on the dishes loaded with flavor. Traditional favorites like samosa and tikka masala are on the menu, amped with modern touches to the time-honored recipes. 

Chocolate Truffles from Secret Chocolatiers in Charlotte, North Carolina
Truffles are a crowd favorite from the Secret Chocolatier. (©Andy Ciordia/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Where to Shop 

The Secret Chocolatier: The Secret Chocolatier in Cotswold is a dessert purveyor that sells handmade chocolates and plays host to events like chocolate and wine nights at their cozy location on Providence Road.

Lunchbox Records: Pick up LPs, canvas totes, buttons and more at this quirky shop in Plaza Midwood. There are also live shows several nights a week.

Garrett’s Antique and Indian Shop: The owners of this Ballantyne shop buy authentic turquoise pieces from Native American reservations all over the country and sell them alongside antique treasures.

Boris & Natasha: This quirky boutique offers vintage for men and women. Options range from mustard, off-shoulder dresses to leather loafers and velvet slider slippers. Don’t forget a pair of thick, oval sunglasses for a polished—and vintage-glam—look. 

Duke Mansion
Duke Mansion has a dozen gardens and 20 guest rooms. (©George Lanis/Catchhlight Studio)

Where to Stay

Duke Mansion: The electricity magnate lived large in this palatial abode. Snag one of the 20 B&B rooms just three miles out of downtown Charlotte and enjoy the acres of gardens. 

Morehead Inn: Charlotte’s first Buick dealer, C.C. Coddington, hired a London-bred architect to replicate Coddington’s childhood home in Pennsylvania. The mansion serves as a quiet Dilworth bed-and-breakfast.

Treehouse Vineyards: Roughly 30 miles outside of Charlotte, travelers looking to get optimal seclusion can rent a treehouse for the night at Treehouse Vineyards.